Statement attributable to Luis Guardia, President, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
WASHINGTON, October 28, 2021 — The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) commends President Biden for today’s announcement of the proposed funding for Child Nutrition Programs within the Build Back Better Act. This is a step in the right direction toward addressing the alarming rates of childhood hunger in this country.
FRAC now urges Congress to quickly pass this legislation in order to provide children with access to the nutrition they need year-round and help overcome the educational, health, and economic impacts of the pandemic.
The critical child nutrition provisions within the Build Back Better Act will
- expand the number of schools that would be able to offer free meals to all students through the Community Eligibility Provision;
- give states the option to implement the Community Eligibility Provision statewide;
- extend the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program nationwide for students who receive free or reduced-price school meals;
- allow states, as well as Indian Tribal Organizations, that participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to provide Summer EBT;
- provide $30 million for school kitchen equipment grants; and
- provide $250 million for a Healthy School Meal Incentives demonstration project.
Studies show school meals can help reduce child hunger and improve students’ academic achievement. With participation in community eligibility growing every year as more schools learn about its many benefits, passing the proposed package should be an easy decision.
Community eligibility offers an important opportunity for schools to respond to the increased need among their students and overcome the educational disruptions experienced by millions of children due to the pandemic.
Summer EBT complements the community eligibility expansion, helping close the summer hunger gap that millions of children experience during summer break when they lose access to school meals. Evaluations of the Summer EBT demonstration projects found that the program reduced food insecurity and improved nutrition.
We commend advocates for continuing to champion these provisions and key lawmakers who repeatedly show their commitment to making sure children are well-nourished and ready to learn.
The Food Research & Action Center improves the nutrition, health, and well-being of people struggling against poverty-related hunger in the United States through advocacy, partnerships, and by advancing bold and equitable policy solutions. To learn more, visit FRAC.org and follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.